UC Regents Discuss Affordability, Berkeley Chancellor

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Madeleine Lee and Chelsea Viola
Campus and National Beat Reporters

At the quarterly meeting of the University of California Board of Regents held from Mar. 14 – 16, issues of affordability and non-resident student enrollment remained at the forefront of legislation and discussion for General Board members and those serving on the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.

In a discussion on increasing affordability and access to higher education for all, several regents expressed concern that the estimated expense budgets compiled from student surveys  three for each university that cover at-home, on-campus, and off-campus students  fall short in properly accounting for the cost of additional living expenses.

The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Director Mike Miller of UC Santa Barbara informed regents of the newly established UCSB Financial Crisis Response Team to counteract living costs. According to Miller, the team works alongside financial aid to better educate students on lesser known services their fees are already paying for, like the AS Food Bank or Community Financial Fund grants, that can help them with day-to-day expenses.

Second year UCSB undergraduate Zenzile Riddick, who attended the meeting with Miller, echoed the importance of keeping students informed.

“As a first generation student who completed my FAFSA incorrectly my senior year of high school,” said Riddick, “I realize the importance of keeping students not only aware of deadlines, but also resources if they are to be able to afford the cost of attendance.”

Riddick, who is currently working on a project that seeks to increase FAFSA and Dream Act completion rates at UCSB, shared with regents her plan to place financial aid application deadlines, links to campus resources, and pop-up reminders for deadlines on the UCSB calendar.

“Without the $15,000 in aid that I receive after the cost of tuition and fees is covered, I can say with certainty that I would not be able to attend UCSB,” said Riddick, who further emphasized that taking a comprehensive account of living expenses and non-campus based costs are essential to the success and retention of students.

At the following day’s General Board meeting, Regents discussed the economic implications of the proposed UC-wide 20 percent cap on nonresident student enrollment. This proposition was made with aims to prioritize California student enrollment, but clashed with the economic implications that came with severing nonresident student tuition as a source of revenue for the UC.  

UCLA’s and UCSD’s chancellors reaffirmed the importance of nonresident student tuition revenue (NSTR) as a means for increasing resources and improving education for in-state students. Non resident tuition is directed to hiring faculty, increasing space in course sections, and providing financial aid, which averages to about $700 per UC student.

UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla emphasized the importance of NSTR at the San Diego campus. “The buildings we aim to build get zero dollars from the state, and we have to look in other places to fund it,” said Khosla.  

One regent called the NSTR ‘sugar water,’ arguing that the UC can find more sustainable funding streams through the state budget. Khosla disagreed.

“Nonresident tuition is not ‘sugar water,’ it is the protein we need,” Khosla countered.

As of 2016, the aggregate nonresident student population across the 10-campus system was 15.5 percent, a stark comparison to the UC student body of 2007, during which five percent was comprised of out-of-state students.  

According to Napolitano, to eliminate nonresident tuition as a revenue stream would result in a spike in in-state tuition (an additional $2,500 for California-resident tuition, or an approximate 20 percent tuition increase).

This proposal was made in context of the average out-of-state enrollment rates within the American Association of American Universities, which is approximately 20 percent.

Under this proposal, three UC campuses are exempt from the 20 percent cut-off  UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego  allowing them to keep their current nonresident proportions, all roughly within the 23-24 percent range, but not to increase them.

According to the UCSB 2015-2016 Campus Profile, nonresident students comprise 10 percent of the Gaucho student body, with 903 out-of-state students making up four percent and 1,208 students from foreign countries making up the remaining six percent.

At the same meeting, Regents confirmed the appointment of Carol T. Christ as UC Berkeley’s new chancellor, making Christ the first woman to serve as the chancellor of UC Berkeley.

Christ, a renowned scholar of Victorian literature, joined UC Berkeley in 1970, being one of the few female faculty members at Berkeley, which comprised less than three percent of faculty at the time. Moving on as the dean of Humanities and later becoming vice chancellor, executive vice chancellor, and provost, Christ was the highest-ranking female administrator at Berkeley until she returned to full-time teaching in 2000.

In 2002, Christ left Berkeley to serve as the 10th president of Smith College, which Napolitano said was left much improved after Christ’s eleven year tenure there.  

“One of the key reasons why Dr. Christ is my choice to be Berkeley’s eleventh chancellor is because she is the very best of what UC Berkeley, and the UC system as a whole, represents,” said Napolitano in her introductory remarks.

“Dr. Christ has a way of making things better. She builds strong relationships and trust with diverse groups and diverse individuals and forms consensus and finds solutions,” said Napolitano.

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